• by Danny Risberg
  • Chairman, European Business Council In Japan (EBC)

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As voters throughout the European Union prepare to go to the polls to elect the next European Parliament, will anyone pause to think about the people who made all this possible? It has been 64 years since the first steps were taken toward the foundation of the union and 57 years since the first treaty was signed. Europe Day on May 9 commemorates these events, but they are largely lost in time as most EU citizens have never known a world without the European Union and take it for granted, which is understandable, but a great disservice to its early visionaries. It was their determination to forge a peaceful, united and prosperous Europe that brought us to where we are today: a union of 28 member states and 503 million citizens, enjoying unprecedented levels of stability and well-being.

In particular, and in spite of recent crises, the EU has become an economic powerhouse. It is the world’s largest trading block, accounting for nearly 20 percent of all global imports and exports. Much of this is due to the combined virtues of its single market, breaking down barriers between individual member states and its open and expansive trade policy. Moreover, as the European Commission points out, maintaining these policies is the key to prosperity as net exports alone contributed between 0.5 and 1 percent to EU GDP growth figures every year since 2010.

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